Hamburg, Germany - First of all, I want to wish all the readers from the “Spider’s Web” and from prohockey.de
a very Happy New Year 2005! For the Freezers, the new year brought a new hope to start on a fresh page. A lot has happened since my last column, over a month ago, and a lot will happen in the next weeks as we keep battling to get ready for the playoffs. Players have left, again, players got hurt, players will join us for the last stretch. Here what is worth talking about: JIMMY DOWD
It looks like Jimmy won’t come back with us this season. It is sad because he was a good player, that made our team much better. With Reider and CJ [Brandon Reid and Craig Johnson], he formed a real 1st line, something we did not really have this season. His experience and solid two-way game will also be missed. I don’t want to get into what caused his departure from the team, because I don’t even know myself everything that happened, but I know that it was his personal decision to leave the team, and we have to respect that decision, even if it goes against us. We used his departure though to have a huge meeting between coaches, players and management, and everything goes a lot better since that meeting. So there is some positive to this unfortunate situation. And on a lighter side, more people come to watch practice now, hoping to see similar “action”...
We finally put on a long winning streak together at home, winning seven straight games in Color Line Arena, before losing last Friday against first-place Nürnberg. That helped us solidify our 7th place in the standings, not exactly where we wanted to be, but we take it one step at a time. Maybe our goal should remain to be in the playoffs, because as Köln, Krefeld and Frankfurt showed us in the last 3 seasons, teams from the bottom are as dangerous as the top four teams... Obviously, some teams will be hard to catch, but making a run for 4th place might be a more reachable goal, as long as we put another solid strings of games together. The next 2 weeks are a good time to get some points, as we play 3 games in a row against teams below us in the standings, in Krefeld on Friday, against Hannover at home, and then in Iserlohn. All these teams have their own battles going on, reaching the playoffs or staying away from the playdowns, and they will all be hard games for sure. But they are points that would look very good in our hands! SHORT BENCH AGAIN
The injury bug doesn’t leave us... Paul Manning is still probably a couple of weeks away to return, he is still recovering from the knee arthroscopy he underwent a few weeks ago. This week, we learned that Smash [Heiko Smazal] will be out for probably a month, after the doctors finally found what was bothering his foot for the last 2 weeks, a hairline fracture. To make matters worst, we lost our other captain, Rummer [Jürgen Rumrich], probably for the rest of the season, when he broke his kneecap while blocking a shot in the last seconds of the game in Augsburg last Sunday. So once again, we are struggling to put three full units on the ice every game.
On top of it, Jacko [Jacek Plachta] got suspended for four games for a collision with Herbert Vasilievs from Nürnberg, that seemed to have injured him for the rest of the season. It is my opinion that the league punished for the injury much more than for the hit, as it was a hard but clean hit, right in front of my goal. Some guys used sticks in very dangerous ways, and get away with it, and a four-man pile-up deserves a four-game ban?? Not sure about that... Maybe that Mr Poss, Nürnberg’s and German National Team coach, has a bigger influence in the DEL now, a little like Mr Zach has had for many years now... NHL LOCKOUT
It looks more and more like there won’t be NHL hockey in America this season, and maybe even longer, as we don’t hear too much positive on either side of the negotiations. What does it mean for the DEL? A lot of rumours!! For the Freezers, we have one foreigner spot open, but the talk in Hamburg is more about a player that would not need that spot. There is a lot of talk in the newspapers here that our management is trying to get Olaf Kolzig, who has a German passport and played for Germany in the last World Cup of Hockey. As you might expect, I was a little surprised to hear about that, and I will use it as a motivational tool to rebound. But I don’t lose sleep over it. If the team feels like they have to improve their goaltending, then they will do it. I just have to prove, again, that the goaltending of the Freezers is not broken.